Mass-native REKS is out with a concept album—pitting good against evil—mediating between God and the Devil. On this highly political album, REKS collaborates with producer Hazardis Soundz who brings his loud, spiny brand of beats into the mix.

At times Kanye-cocky, at times cool lyricist a la Nas, REKS’ style is versatile. Eyes Watching God definitely deviates from his previous material, not only because it’s a concept album, but because of the tenacity in which he delivers his messages. On 2011 release Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme, also off of Brick Records (and nominated by Boston Music Awards for Album of the Year), REKS’ rap is more introspective, his words picked more prudently, like ripe fruit from a tree; here, his manifesto goes unchecked to the delight of the listener. REKS plays bad apple—and that’s good.

On the intro track REKS wastes no time establishing a furious pace and an unflinching tone, calling to mind any number of Army of the Pharaohs songs: “It’s not about Muslim or Christian / Find us focus / Time to notice the rope tightening on the hopeless.” The listener is made to immediately confront the realities that REKS has clearly been dealing with.

“Free Minds” continues the theme of calling for religious freedom and tolerance. The chorus goes, “The blind lead the blind / As long as you’re faithful you’ll see it my way in time / Free minds are able.” Perhaps REKS should book some shows along the Gaza Strip.

The album tackles many different issues—from religious intolerance to police brutality, to America’s addiction to incarceration, all in the context of God as witness. REKS invites his friends to join his insurgency, half the songs featuring other rappers, including familiar faces Terminology and N.O.R.E.

Though REKS’ busy lyricism is often an asset, at times it contends with the full-sounding production of Hazirdis’ beats. The fifth track, “Martyrs,” has a simple, repetitive beat carried by piano and strings that pushes REKS’ rap to the forefront, a welcome intermission between heavy, hard-hitting tracks. The song follows “Stephen” who is a martyr, fighting for the people and for black consciousness. Alluding to a classic Nas song, REKS raps, “Should I lie to my kids, or tell them life is a bitch?”

It is easy to tell when the Devil half of the album begins. “Welcome to hell,” is the first line of the song and first line of the chorus on track nine, “Unholy.” From here on, the songs reveal an even bleaker landscape.

“Hop Out Boys” presents a familiar warning about police corruption that we’ve heard many rappers cover over the years (KRS-1, Sound of da Police, NWA, Fuck tha Police). “Be wary on the block when the cop deploys / All gotta watch for them hop out boys.” Since this song is situated securely on the Devil side of the album, is REKS equating police to the Devil? Not unlikely.

Overall Hazardis Soundz’s production on the Devil side is more machine-gun frantic, a steady round of disquieting sounds and drum hits, matching REKS’ now seething tone.

Is this REKS’ best album yet? No. That title still goes to Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme, when REKS paired up with hip-hop legends DJ Premier, The Alchemist, and Styles P. But will this album leave you with a lot to think about? Absolutely.


Album Review: REKS & Hazardis Soundz - Eyes Watching God
  • Album gets better with each listen, with time to digest REKS’ complex lyrics
  • Extremely passionate
  • God/Devil dual-image holographic album art is creative
  • Beats and rap compete for attention at times
8.2Good Vs. Evil
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